LOS ANGELES, Nov.1 - The Los Angeles Lakers had very little time to lick their wounds after stunningly losing their regular-season opener to the Dallas Mavericks but, almost to a man, they said that time was their most precious commodity.Less than 24 hours after being humbled by the Mavericks 99-91 on their home court in downtown Los Angeles, the Lakers were set to face the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday.
"It's a process," guard Kobe Bryant said of fine-tuning a potentially potent Lakers starting five boosted by the offseason acquisitions of six-time All-Star Dwight Howard and twice Most Valuable Player Steve Nash.
"We just gotta continue to chip away, continue to play at it. We just continue working on things, continue to get better and continue to plan to win. Just try to get better every day."
Lakers fans had arrived at the Staples Center for Tuesday's game in exuberant mood, eager to see how Howard and Nash would dovetail with fellow All-Stars Bryant and Pau Gasol, plus Metta World Peace.
However, the sellout crowd was stunned into silence by the end of the fourth quarter as the Lakers, who had made a strong start, misfired after half-time to be outplayed by an undermanned Mavericks lineup.
"It's not the way we wanted it to go," Spaniard Gasol said after scoring a game-high 23 points on erratic eight-of-19 shooting.
"We know it's not going to happen for us right away, but we've just got to continue to stick with it and understand we have to be a little more solid defensively.
"It's going to take a little bit of time, and that's okay. We just have to stay with it, put in a conscious effort every game, every day, every play, to get better."